A percussive, brisk, declamatory novel about an American-born, Israeli-raised Jewish girl, who--seared by the loss of a lover through government oppression of Israeli Arabs--takes a lonely, circuitous journey back to a new understanding of her past. Beautiful, strong Zara, originally named ""Hope,"" refuses to join the chauvinist Israeli militants who chant their contempt for Arab citizens. And among the Arab boys she has befriended, Zara finds true love with sensitive, intelligent Raif. But when Raif is imprisoned for trumped-up charges of treasonous activity (the work of Zara's bitter mother Ruth, a concentration-camp survivor), Zara rages at Israeli justice--and is taken by Raif's lawyer Ariella to the stark desert nature-preserve of Ein Gedi, where taciturn, severe Ronar will become Zara's ""cold and determined lover."" But even at Ein Gedi, there is persecution of Bedouins: Zara is moved to violence against a sadistic official. And when she hears of Raif's death in prison (at the hands of Jewish prisoners), she begins a nomad journey--hitchhiking around Europe, joining the other ""last carriers of freedom on the earth,"" acquiring a mythic aura as vagabond, painter, capricious lover. . . and courier for international leftist groups. Finally, Zara arrives in New Mexico (after being pursued for months by a mysterious stranger), then returns to the heartbreak, horror, and fierce love. . . to Israel. Despite the monotonic effect of its scoured, self-righteous heroine--a heated first novel of good heart, marching prose, and iron lungs.